Regional cities short-changed in mining boom

Regional communities in Central Queensland that are supporting the mining super cycle have been short-changed in the recent state budget and will flounder without a plan for growth, according to the Queensland Resources Council (QRC).

Regional communities in Central Queensland that are supporting the mining super cycle have been short-changed in the recent state budget and will flounder without a plan for growth, according to the Queensland Resources Council (QRC).

The QRC’s Chief Executive Michael Roche told the Mining 2020 International Conference at the Laguna Whitsundays Resort that, despite claims to the contrary, mining royalty windfalls have not made it back to the regional communities.

“In the last State budget, royalties were increased by an average 22%, handing the government an extra $2.2 billion for the current financial year,” Roche said.

“Coal royalties are forecast to grow from just over $1 billion in the past financial year to $3.2 billion in 2008-09, and total mineral royalties are budgeted to exceed $3.6 billion.

“The government boasted that budget outlays included investing more than $1 billion in coal industry infrastructure in the Mackay-Whitsunday region that’s about half the total budget outlays for the region however all that infrastructure is being paid for by the coal industry.

“Meanwhile the cities of Mackay, Townsville and Rockhampton are crying out for a long-term plan to underpin their ongoing role as major service centres for the mining industry.

“QRC members are concerned about the shortcomings of government services and facilities in resource communities throughout regional Queensland.

“Mining communities have got to offer present and prospective workers more than just a place to rest their head after a shift, but sadly, some mining towns are no longer places where employees and their families want to live, simply because they are not prepared to trade wages for second-class facilities and services,” he said.

“Resource sector growth in Queensland should not be seen as an imposition but rather an opportunity for governments to do more than just talk about decentralisation and the need to reduce population pressure in the south-east. However, the good news is that, in coming weeks, we’re hopeful of seeing some movement from the State government on a compact with mining companies and local governments to ensure that everyone has a clear grasp of responsibilities and obligations for nurturing sustainable resource communities.”

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